What is the Lord’s Supper?
The Lord’s Supper, also known as Holy Communion or the Eucharist, is a ritual that Jesus created before He died on the cross for us (Mark 14:22-24). In this Sacrament, Jesus gives us His physical Body and Blood to eat and drink in, with, and under the bread and the wine (1 Cor. 10:16). In other words, Christians experience the miracle of physically touching the risen Jesus every Sunday. Lutherans do not attempt to use logic or reasoning to explain this miracle (for who can know the full extent of the power of God?), but instead we simply trust Jesus’ own words: “This is my Body; this is my Blood.”
Unfortunately, there are divisions in the Christian Church regarding what this gift actually is. Some Christians do not believe we experience the miracle of actually touching Jesus but rather believe this ritual must be symbolic or solely a spiritual experience. These beliefs do not come from Scripture alone – for there is no passage in Scripture that says: “the bread symbolizes my Body” or “the cup is only spiritually my Blood.” Rather these conclusions come from a mix of human reason and Scripture. Some Christians will read  “Take, eat; this is my body (Matt. 26:26)” as symbolic because “it is not logical that the body of Jesus can be in heaven and in my hand at the same time!” Or perhaps, “it does not make sense to me that the wine could be Jesus’ Blood – it doesn’t taste like blood!”
Lutherans, on the other hand, do not restrict the power of God by our reason, logic, or understanding. God can do things beyond our understanding! Can Christ’s Body be in heaven and in every church on earth all at once? Yes! Can this Sacrament truly be Jesus in our hands even if it doesn’t taste like flesh and blood? Yes! The Lord’s Supper is a miracle – a blessing – that we will not fully understand until we commune with Jesus in heaven (Matt. 26:29).
What is the Purpose of the Lord’s Supper?
The Lord’s Supper is a huge part of our Lutheran worship and gatherings – and for good reason. Jesus created the Lord’s Supper to deliver to us the forgiveness of our sins (Matthew 26:28). Lutherans call the Lord’s Supper one of the “means of grace,” for it is the means and method by which Jesus has decided to give Christians grace – that is, salvation and the forgiveness of our sins. There are two other means by which Jesus gives us the forgiveness of our sins: Baptism (Acts 2:38) and Holy Absolution (John 20:21-22). When we partake in the Lord’s Supper, our sins are wiped away by the sacrifice Jesus had once and for all made for us (Hebrews 9:14-16). 
Furthermore, Holy Communion is a Sacrament done together as the true Church. Communion is not a personal practice only between a single person and God; it is a corporate ritual. Before we receive the Lord’s Supper, we are called to reconcile with those we are divided against (Matt. 5:23-24). Paul speaks harshly against those who come to the Lord’s Supper divided against their Christian brothers and sisters (1 Cor. 11:17-22). The Lord’s Supper is the Sacrament of reconciliation; we must forgive those among us before coming to the altar (Matt. 18:21-35). And when we commune, we proclaim the faith we have in Christ to one another. By coming up to the altar the Christian essentially says – “I know the Lord will return; soon I will touch Him in heaven with my fellow brothers and sisters as I am doing right now (1 Cor.11:26)!”
When is a Christian Ready to Commune?
Baptism without faith does not save (Mark 16:16). Participating in Confession and Absolution without repentance does not grant forgiveness (Luke 13:3; Rev. 2:16). In the same way, the Bible speaks against communing in an unworthy manner (1 Cor. 11:27). Recognizing the great significance of this Sacrament, Lutherans do not want anyone to commune unworthily. Out of love, some are barred temporarily from participating in Holy Communion to protect them from eating or drinking “judgment on themselves (1 Cor. 11:29).” Some Christians might protest that denying someone Communion is not loving at all. But if we really believe that this is the true Body and Blood of Jesus – and if we really believe Scripture when Paul says that one can take the Lord’s Supper in error, is it not more loving to protect those who are not yet ready to receive from eating and drinking judgment upon themselves? Therefore our policy for Communion is to protect, not exclude.
When then is a Christian ready to commune? First, a Christian must certainly be repentant of their sins before they receive the Lord’s Supper. Furthermore, there must not be division among Christians at the Communion rail (1 Cor. 11:18-20). Lutherans believe that it is critically important for Christians communing together to be unified in faith and doctrine. In other words, Christians who commune together ought to believe the same things about Jesus, the Church, and the Lord’s Supper (to name a few examples). While perfect unity is impossible this side of heaven, Lutherans still fight against division as Paul instructs us to (Phil 2:2).
A Christian ought therefore to be instructed in the beliefs of our Lutheran Church before communing (1 Cor. 11:28). If you would like to learn more about what we believe, click here or here.
When May I Commune at Grace Lutheran Church?
When in doubt, talk to our pastor! You may contact Pastor Peter Deberny at ‘pastor@graceinmb.org.’ You may also call the church office at (631) 281-8196.
The best place to start is to explore online our other beliefs at Grace Lutheran Church. “Examine yourself,” as Paul says, and see if your beliefs are in unity with ours! You may also read our beliefs in more detail here.
If you are unsure during a worship service, you may come up to the altar to receive a blessing from the pastor. To receive a blessing, cross your arms in the shape of an ‘X’ over your chest.